No Relief for the Rich, but Comfort for the Poor
1. How are the first now last, and the last now first?
THE clergy and religious leaders of Christendom took it for granted that they, just like the “rich man”, were first in line for the Kingdom and sure of it. Now they find themselves, since A.D. 1919, to be last and out of the Kingdom privileges altogether. On the other hand, those whom they despised as the last ones in any chance for God’s kingdom, the remnant of the beggar Lazarus class, these are now first in the enjoyment of Kingdom privileges at the “table of Jehovah” as His witnesses. The facts prove it so. They are the ones to whom the Kingdom interests are now entrusted. They are conscientiously caring for them by obeying Christ’s command to preach this Kingdom gospel to all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations.
2. How did the Lazarus class experience a change like Job’s and that of the “two witnesses” of Revelation 11?
2 They were falsely accused and misrepresented as hypocritical sinners by the religious clergy, just as the bereft, disease-stricken Job was accused by his three self-righteous friends. This remnant of the Lazarus class have now experienced a glorious change of condition, in the same way that Job, nearly dead and seemingly afflicted by God, was healed and given a new lease on life for 140 years, was blessed with twice as much as he had before, was rejoined with his wife and was blessed with seven sons and three lovely daughters the same as before. (Job 42:10-17) Once those of the remnant of the Lazarus class were lying as dead and inactive, like the “two witnesses” of Revelation, chapter 11. Taking advantage of World War I, the “rich man” class intimidated and maneuvered them into deathlike inactivity toward Jehovah’s witness work and they lay like ‘corpses’ on the broad way of the great city of Christendom, modern Sodom! But in 1919 God’s spirit began restoring them to life in his service to be his witnesses and Kingdom ambassadors. So they came into the favor of the Greater Abraham, Jehovah God, and received his invitation, “Come on up here.” They responded to this invitation to come to life in his exalted service in the interest of the kingdom of heaven. So with regard to this, Revelation 11:12 says: “And they went up into heaven in the cloud, and their enemies beheld them.”—NW.
3. So where do the “rich man” class see those “two witnesses” to be and themselves in contrast?
3 Yes, their enemies, the “rich man” class in Christendom, beheld them enjoying these royal privileges at the “table of Jehovah”, in the bosom position of Abraham, whereas they themselves were cast out and denied these Kingdom opportunities. They have been left to the darkness, gloom and desperation of this world with its selfish alliance of nations for world peace. There they weep and gnash their teeth at this reversal of conditions against them and in favor of Jehovah’s witnesses. They are as dead and buried in Hades (or hell, the grave) as regards God’s approved service, and yet they are in torment because of seeing how the remnant of the Lazarus class have been taken into this service and are being used in it so mightily world-wide. God has withheld his sorely needed message from them and they suffer from a spiritual “famine . . . of hearing the words of Jehovah” among themselves.—Amos 8:11, AS.
4, 5. How are they as in fiery torment?
4 They see themselves far off from the bosom position of the Greater Abraham, Jehovah God. And just as the Jewish clergy and religious leaders were tormented at the message and activities of Jesus and his disciples, so the religious heads and notables of Christendom today are in torment at observing and feeling the activities of Jehovah’s witnesses. Hundreds of thousands they behold responding and attaching themselves to the Lazarus class, just as a large family of ten new children were added to Job after his recovery from God’s seeming disfavor due to Satan’s machinations. Jehovah’s message by his witnesses is like a flaming fire against the “rich man” religionists: “Is not my word like fire? saith Jehovah.” (Jer. 23:29, AS) To them the activities of the Lazarus class in proclaiming the day of Jehovah’s vengeance are like the locust plague foretold at Revelation 9:1-11 and Joel 2:1-11.
5 These “locusts” are the army of Jehovah’s witnesses, and as to their effect upon Christendom’s “rich man” class Revelation 9:5-7, 10, 11 says: “It was granted the locusts, not to kill them, but that these should be tormented five months, and the torment upon them was as torment by a scorpion when it strikes a man. And in those days the men will seek death but will by no means find it, and they will desire to die but death keeps fleeing from them. And the likenesses of the locusts resembled horses prepared for battle, . . . Also they have tails and stings like scorpions; and in their tails is their authority to hurt the men five months. They have over them a king, the angel of the abyss. In Hebrew his name is A·badʹdon [Destruction], but in Greek he has the name A·polʹlyon [Destroyer].” (NW) Not surprising that the effort is made throughout Christendom to destroy Jehovah’s witnesses.
PLEA FOR RELIEF TURNED DOWN
6. How do they address Abraham, and why?
6 Mark, now, that what the parable next tells of the rich man in Hades and torment has undergone fulfillment in this consummation of the system of things. “So he called and said: ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in anguish in this blazing fire.’” (Luke 16:24, NW) The Jewish clergy cried out, “Father Abraham!” in a plea for favor as his natural seed. They were his natural descendants and had expected treatment better than this from God because of such natural relationship to that ancient “friend of God”. Oh for relief from God on the basis of this relationship! Likewise today Christendom’s religionists, the modern counterpart, address the Greater Abraham, God, as “Father” and plead with him for mercy in their tormented condition.
7. What does their request to have Lazarus sent to cool their tongue mean?
7 If Jesus was not telling a parable but the “blazing fire” was literal, then how absurd for the rich man to ask to have Lazarus dip his finger in water to cool the rich man’s tongue! But how could the Lazarus class bring the “rich man” class any relief now? Well, by a drop of the water of truth that would refresh the religious clergy in their spiritual anguish and torment. How could this be accomplished? Only by having the Lazarus class stop preaching the “day of vengeance of our God” and stop exposing hypocritical religion and pronouncing the fiery judgments of Jehovah against Christendom. So they want the Greater Abraham to have the ones in his bosom favor to compromise. Let them not preach the naked truth, but preach nice things for the religious clergy and give them a better appearance in people’s eyes. That is, do not do as Jehovah commanded the prophet Jeremiah, who pictured his witnesses today: “Whatsoever I shall command thee thou shalt speak. . . . And they shall fight against thee; but they shall not prevail against thee: for I am with thee, saith Jehovah, to deliver thee.” The “rich man” class speak thus in a manner like that of the Israelite priest Amaziah to the prophet Amos, but they get an unsatisfying, tormenting answer like that which Amos returned to Amaziah.—Jer. 1:7, 19, AS; Amos 7:10-17.
8. How does Abraham address them in reply, and why?
8 What, now, does the Greater Abraham reply? The parable goes on to tell: “But Abraham said: ‘Child, remember that you received in full your good things in your lifetime, but Lazarus correspondingly the injurious things. Now, however, he is having comfort here but you are in anguish. And besides all these things, a great chasm has been fixed between us and you people, so that those wanting to go over from here to you people cannot, neither may people cross over from there to us.” (Luke 16:25, 26, NW) Because the Jewish clergy were natural descendants, Abraham could properly address them as “Child!” But this only condemned them, because, though being his natural offspring, they had willfully rejected the divine favor and had come under God’s condemnation. So because of their professions to be God’s children the Greater Abraham addresses the complaining “rich man” religionists as “Child!” in the same way that Joshua addressed the troublemaker Achan when on trial for life. (Josh. 7:19) They are in the position of a child that justly needs punishment. Psalm 82:6, 7 says to them: “I said, Ye are gods, and all of you sons of the Most High. Nevertheless ye shall die like men, and fall like one of the princes.” (AS) The “blazing fire” they now experience is just an advance token of the destruction that awaits them. But God defends and delivers the poor and needy, and rids them out of the hand of the wicked.—Ps. 82:1-4.
9. How did they ‘in their lifetime’ receive the good things?
9 “In your lifetime!” Yes, in the rich man’s time before divine judgment came, on natural Israel back there and on Christendom down here since God’s kingdom was set up and Jesus Christ was made the “chief cornerstone” in that royal structure. Before the “rich man” religionists were exposed as dead and buried toward God they had little concern for the people’s real spiritual need. They made a good living from their clerical profession and sought honor and worldly respect and led an easy life. They gave the people very little Bible intelligence and did not go out seeking the lost sheep. They remained silent about their oppressors and oppressions and let them hope for relief and comfort only in heaven. Likewise the “evil slave” class seek only their own heavenly salvation and leave the “other sheep” to shift for themselves until the Millennium. They offer no assistance now to such sheep to escape the world tribulation of Armageddon and to survive into the Millennium. (Matt. 24:48-51) So the “rich man” religionists have taken the good things of this life and have held the good things of the Bible in reserve for themselves. But now those days are gone forever, and they are seriously disturbed, disillusioned and in great anguish.
10, 11. (a) How did the Lazarus class receive the “injurious things”? (b) But now how are they comforted, and who also with them?
10 In those days when Christendom’s religious set flourished, the Lazarus class received the “injurious things”, and that largely at the hands of the “rich man” religionists. People who gave them a bit of soothing relief were looked down on as dogs that came and licked their ulcers. They were made to appear spiritually diseased and outcasts, under God’s curse, “as having nothing,” like beggars. (2 Cor. 6:8-10, NW) But now since God has reversed matters and showed whom he really favors and has taken to his bosom, they are comforted. Of course, they are still verbally abused and violently persecuted by the “rich man” class; but they are comforted with God’s comfort and refreshed and renewed by the good things from his table. They eat, drink, rejoice, sing for joy of heart, and are blessed, whereas the “rich man” religionists hunger, thirst, feel shame, cry and howl sorrowfully, leave their name for a curse, and face destruction. (Isa. 65:13-16) It is as when Job was healed and comforted, and his family, relatives and friends were restored.
11 The remnant of the Lazarus class are spiritual Jews. Upon their “skirt” we now see “ten men . . . out of all languages of the nations” take hold and go up with them as companions to Jehovah’s theocratic organization. (Zech. 8:20-23) They are like Job’s brothers, sisters and acquaintances who came to comfort him, besides those beautiful children whom he fathered in his old age. (Job 42:11; see also The New World, pages 364, 365) They are the “other sheep” whom Jehovah’s Right Shepherd, Jesus Christ, brings into unity with the Lazarus remnant, making them one flock under one Shepherd. In this way, too, these “other sheep” become intimate companions with the remnant and come into the bosom favor of the Greater Abraham, and they share in the present “good things” and comfort of the remnant. (John 10:16) They are the first ones of the earthly class to receive benefits from the Greater Abraham through his Seed, Jesus Christ and his body of joint heirs.
A GREAT CHASM
12. What does the great chasm represent? What relief does it forbid?
12 But that “great chasm”! The rich man had not thought of that when pleading to Abraham for relief. The people where he is cannot cross it and force themselves into Abraham’s bosom. Nor can the Lazarus class leave Abraham’s bosom and cross over it to the relief of the “rich man” class. The chasm pictures God’s judgment, which cannot be reversed and which divides the two classes. It forbids any mercy or relief to Christendom. She is abandoned since making her decision following World War I. She then decided against God’s established kingdom and favored the international conspiracy for ruling the earth by human agents in defiance of His rightful sovereignty and in opposition to his King Jesus Christ, whom he put on the throne in 1914 to rule amidst his enemies. To the “rich man” class the King Jesus Christ says: “Serpents, offspring of vipers, how are you to flee from the judgment of Gehenna?” (Matt. 23:33, NW) The Kingdom is here to rule in triumph. Now this world, including Christendom and its religious powers, must be abandoned to destruction. Her “rich man” class are like Esau, who sold his birthright for selfishness and moved to Mount Seir. Afterward when he wanted to inherit the blessing he was rejected, for, “although he earnestly sought a change of mind [in Isaac] with tears, he found no place for it.”—Heb. 12:16, 17, NW; Deut. 2:1-5; Ezek. 35:1-15.
13. What dividing work has gone on, which prevents fraternizing?
13 The terms for getting adopted as members of Abraham’s seed according to God’s promise cannot be set aside. The Kingdom class of blessing is now about complete, only a remnant on earth being yet destined for it. The “rich man” has not met those theocratic terms and requirements but has chosen the wisdom of this world. The last ones from his standpoint are now first in their participation in the Kingdom interests, and the reputedly first ones are now last. There can be no fusion of the two classes, no fraternizing! “Come out of her, my people,” calls the divine voice from heaven, “touch not the unclean thing.” The Lazarus remnant have left the Babylonish world and its religious confusion that they might be clean to bear Jehovah’s vessels of worship. God is determined to keep the organization of his people clean now. Only the real thing is kept there; all hypocrites are thrown out. The rich man cannot be brought in contrary to Jehovah’s decree. But now in this short period of God’s patience before the world destruction at Armageddon the “other sheep” class hear the Right Shepherd’s voice sounding the divine call to come out of worldly Babylon. They do so, flee to the upraised Signal of Jehovah’s kingdom, and gain entrance to the one flock under his royal Shepherd. These sheep the Shepherd puts to his right and divides them off from the “goats”. The great unbridgeable chasm of divine judgment allows for no fellowship between faithful persons and those who unbelievingly reject the Kingdom.a “Thy judgments are a great deep.”—Ps. 36:6.
PLEA FOR THE FIVE BROTHERS
14. Who is the father of the “rich man” class? How was this shown?
14 The “rich man” class have their own ideas about the salvation of the people. “Then he said: ‘In that event I ask you, father, to send him to the house of my father, for I have five brothers, in order that he may give them a thorough witness, that they also should not get into this place of torment.’” (Luke 16:27, 28, NW) He still calls Abraham “father”, but he confesses he has a closer relationship to another father and has five brothers. Who this father is Jesus told this class: “If you are Abraham’s children, do the works of Abraham. . . . If God were your Father, you would love me, for from God I came forth and am here. You are from your father the Devil and you wish to do the desires of your father. That one was a manslayer when he began, and he did not stand fast in the truth, because truth is not in him.” (John 8:39, 42, 44, NW) So the “rich man” class show their real sonship by the resemblance of their works to those of the Devil.
15. Whom do the rich man’s “five brothers” stand for?
15 The “rich man” and his five brothers total six. This is a number distinguishing the organization of imperfection and sin, the enemy organization. (1 Sam. 17:4, 7; 2 Sam. 21:20; Rev. 13:18) So they are the visible seed of the great Serpent, as Jesus called them. (Gen. 3:15; Matt. 23:33; 3:7) Back there the five brothers stood for all the Jewish brothers of the “rich man” class, all natural Israelites of a like attitude, spirit and fatherhood. They were the seed of Abraham by natural descent but were not the spiritual sons of the Greater Abraham nor the brothers of Christ. At this end of the world they picture all those professed Christians of Christendom who associate with the religious leaders, follow their guidance and act goatishly toward Christ’s remnant of brothers. Their works betray who is their father.—2 Tim. 2:25, 26, NW.
16, 17. (a) What does the rich man admit regarding Lazarus? (b) What does he in reality want Abraham to do with Lazarus for his brothers?
16 The rich man admits that Lazarus is a witness of Jehovah, saying: “That he may give them a thorough witness.” Is the rich man here approving of the Lazarus class of Jehovah’s witnesses and asking for his five brothers to be helped to become Jehovah’s witnesses too? The facts fulfilling the parable do not indicate this. Actually, the rich man wants the Greater Abraham to send Lazarus away from his bosom to preach to his brothers in such a way and with such a message that it will not show them up to be dead toward God. It should not put them in mental torment. On the contrary, it should give them the false assurance that they are still in divine favor, reposing, like Lazarus, in the bosom of the Greater Abraham with all the promised New World blessings in view.
17 As in apostolic times, the “rich man” class of today want God to make his witnesses change their unorthodox way of preaching and also change their message. Soft-pedal this message of the “day of vengeance of our God” and let up on ‘overturning the strongly entrenched things’ of error, false religion and worldly friendship. The “rich man” class wants his brothers in his father’s organization to be spared the torment he suffers from the proclamation of the pure Word of God, exposing their hypocrisy and worldliness. So their prayer is really to their true father, Satan the Devil, and is that he will prevail upon the Lazarus class to make them a part of this world, compromising with the “rich man’s” organization. Then they will not torment unfaithful Christians.
18. What did Abraham now reply? What did his reply mean?
18 “But Abraham said: ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to these.’” (Luke 16:29, NW) This shows that, at the time Jesus spoke his parable, only Jewish persons were meant, for then the Gentile nations did not have the Mosaic Law and the Prophets or the other section of the Hebrew Scriptures headed by the Psalms.b Abraham’s answer showed he did not agree with the rich man’s request concerning Lazarus. Just so, too, the Lazarus class was not to be allowed to take away Moses and the Prophets or to ignore them or to take from them or add to them. The Scriptures which they had already must stand without change or compromise. The “rich man” class and their “five brothers” today have, not only Moses and the Prophets or the Hebrew Scriptures, but also the Greek Scriptures of Christ’s disciples. The “rich man” class had not strictly heeded these Scriptures and conformed his life and teaching to them. Hence he suffered. So if the “five brothers” or other members of the religious part of the Devil’s organization listen to these Scriptures and regulate their lives by them, only then will they not get into the “rich man’s” hopeless, tormented condition.
DEMANDING A SIGN
19. How does the rich man contradict Abraham? What does he really want done?
19 The rich man thinks he knows better than the Greater Abraham. “Then he said: ‘No, indeed, father Abraham, but if someone from the dead goes to them they will repent.’” (Luke 16:30, NW) So he contradicts God: Moses and the Prophets are not enough. He admits that his brothers need repentance, but he wants their repentance to be worked out, not by heeding the Scriptures Jehovah’s witnesses preach, but by a sign. He reveals himself to be like a “wicked and adulterous generation” which “keeps on seeking for a sign”. Yes, “the Jews ask for signs and the Greeks look for wisdom.” (Matt. 16:1-4; 12:38, 39, NW; Luke 23:8; John 4:48; 1 Cor. 1:22, NW) He wants his brothers’ repentance to take place by this sign without the Law of Moses and the Prophets, as if a sign were an indispensable addition to them and they were not sufficient in themselves. Give them an awe-inspiring sign, and do not remove the traditions of the religious elders and the precepts of men which overstep God’s commands and make his Word invalid. (Matt. 15:1-9) So this class in Hades insist on their own way of saving mankind, a way that dispenses with being tormented by the Lazarus class.
20. (a) So what does the “rich man” class today want regarding the Lazarus class? (b) What here shows this is a parable?
20 The clerical “rich man” today does not want to part with religious traditions, age-old ceremonies and pagan philosophies, which they have sanctified into their religious systems and teachings. They let the people have the Bible, but they do not recommend to their congregations the pure teaching of Moses and the Prophets and now the rest of the inspired Scriptures written to show the fulfillment of Moses and the Prophets. They do not want Jehovah’s witnesses, the Lazarus class, to recommend the Holy Scriptures to the people, exposing the religious traditions, ceremonies and philosophies. No, but let God, the Greater Abraham, give some supernatural sign that will show whether the Lazarus class are true or false and that will not result in such pain for the rich man’s “five brothers”. Again we see how Jesus must have been speaking a parable. For if this were all literal, then how could the rich man ask dead Abraham to send back Lazarus from the dead, when Abraham himself is dead and is unable to resurrect even his own self, not to speak of another person? It is “God who makes the dead alive”. (Rom. 4:17, NW) But will the Greater Abraham do something miraculous with the Lazarus class of Jehovah’s witnesses so as to have them make a forced impression on the rich man’s “five brothers”?
21. What did Abraham reply, and how did Jesus elsewhere speak in agreement with that?
21 “But he said to him: ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone rises from the dead.’” (Luke 16:31, NW) So a sign according to their specifications will not be given them, just as Jesus elsewhere told them: “A wicked and adulterous generation keeps on seeking for a sign, but no sign will be given it except the sign of Jonah the prophet. For just as Jonah was in the belly of the huge fish three days and three nights, so the Son of man will be in the heart of the earth three days and three nights. . . . look! something more than Jonah is here.” (Matt. 12:39-41, NW) He took a correct measurement of their religious attitude when he said: “Unless you people see signs and wonders, you will by no means believe.” And he showed he agreed with Abraham’s words, when he said: “You are searching the Scriptures, because you think that by means of them you will have everlasting life; and these are the very ones that bear witness about me. And yet you do not want to come to me that you may have life. . . . Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father; there is one that accuses you, Moses, in whom you have put your hope. In fact, if you believed Moses you would believe me, for that one wrote about me. But if you do not believe the writings of that one, how will you believe my sayings?”—John 4:48; 5:39, 40, 45-47, NW.
22. What only can the Lazarus class bring the “rich man’s” five brothers? What is the difficulty with these latter?
22 All that the Lazarus class could bring them would be Moses and the Prophets and the message of the risen one, Jesus Christ. But no adulterated, compromising message! You cannot really believe the message of the Risen One, and now also the message of his established kingdom, without also believing Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms. For the Christian Greek Scriptures are based on the Hebrew Scriptures. Also the ancient Hebrew Scriptures find their fulfillment in the Christian Scriptures and in the facts of today respecting his kingdom. So if you do not want to believe Moses and the Prophets just for the truth of those Scriptures, then you will not be willing to believe because of a man who has been made alive to God’s favor and who reclines in his favor, no longer a spiritual beggar but an active witness of Jehovah. Besides such a spiritual enlivening of the Lazarus class, Jesus Christ actually did rise from the dead and sent his witnesses, first to the Jews and then to the nations. (Acts 10:40-42) Now his followers as witnesses of Jehovah go preaching the risen Christ and his kingdom to the survivors of the “rich man” class, his “five brothers”. Yet this makes no difference with them. Why not? Because they do not choose to believe Moses and the Prophets and the rest of the inspired Scriptures. They do not want to exercise faith; they want to see a sign.
23. So may we expect miraculous backing for our work? What, then, are we under orders to do?
23 Will God change his method for the sake of these willful unbelievers? Never! The yawning chasm of his uncompromising judgment still remains there between us and them. So apart from our change of condition since 1919, which is like Jonah’s coming out of the huge fish’s belly to live on earth as Jehovah’s witness and preach to the Ninevites, a sufficient sign, the Lazarus class of Jehovah’s witnesses need not expect God to work any astounding miracle upon them or with them so as to hasten the repentance of the rich man’s brothers’ class. We need no support now by a resurrection of faithful witnesses of old. We are not authorized to compromise the divine message for this day of judgment of the nations by holding back from telling all the counsel of God. We are commanded to use Christendom’s own possession of the Scriptures, Moses and the Prophets and the inspired testimony about the risen Christ and his kingdom. Thus equipped, we are to preach fearlessly. Recognizing God’s favor upon us, we no longer look to the goatish religious leaders and go to them as beggars for spiritual favors. We keep ourselves in the Greater Abraham’s bosom of favor and we preach as he commands us.
24. To whom alone, then, may we bring comfort and relief?
24 Let the goats stop their ears and persecute us in their religious anguish and torment. We cannot compromise and predict any relief from God for them. But seeing we have been so greatly comforted by the Greater Abraham, Jehovah God, we are obliged to go forth and “comfort all that mourn” with the comfort with which He has comforted us through Christ. (Isa. 61:1, 2; 2 Cor. 1:3, 4) Let those who have ears to listen, listen and be comforted. In that way many more straying sheep will hear the Right Shepherd’s voice and turn from their beggarly, sin-diseased, downtrodden condition in this world and come into the favor of the Greater Abraham along with the remnant of the Lazarus class. Thus the great crowd will continue increasing, to swell the voice that is heard saying: “Praise Jah, you people, because Jehovah our God, the Almighty, has begun to rule as king.”—Rev. 19:6, NW.
b If we did not view Jesus to be telling a parable but something literal in meaning, what would Abraham’s words mean? This: that salvation from Hades and from fiery torments is to be gained by taking just Moses (or the Law) and the Prophets without needing the inspired writings of Jesus’ disciples, the New Testament, as many call it. There are many professed Christians that say we do not need the Old Testament or “Moses and the Prophets”; but here Abraham says they need “Moses and the Prophets”, without mentioning the so-called “New Testament”. Another thing: If the literal Abraham were here meant, dead then over eighteen centuries, how could he be in the grave and know anything about Moses and the Prophets, men who came hundreds of years after his death? (Isa. 38:18; Ps. 6:5) Also, in view of Ecclesiastes 9:5, 10, how could the rich man in Hades, Sheol or hell speak to Abraham? And, in view of Job 14:19-22, how could he see Lazarus’ change in condition and coming to divine honor? Only if Jesus spoke a parable could the things he described here be possible.